Birthplace Nurse Learns Firsthand: Fairview Is A Great Place To Provide & Receive Care


Jennifer Parenteau knows firsthand about the exceptional care Fairview Health Services provides, and now she’s learned what a great workplace it is as well. “This is the best job I’ve ever had, because of the people I work with,” says Jennifer, as she described the difficult year her family has had.

Jennifer, a Birthplace nurse at Fairview Lakes Medical Center, is also a wife and a mother of three children, one of whom has cancer.Jennifer’s 14-year-old daughter, Jaelynn, was diagnosed with t-cell lymphoblastic leukemia in October, just 11 months after Jennifer started working at Fairview.“We commute sometimes five times a week for chemotherapy and other treatments at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. It’s 100 miles round trip.”

“Fairview has been amazing,” she adds. “My boss, Becky Baker, and our staffer, Vicki Barsness, have been so helpful. I give them my daughter’s chemo schedule, and colleagues jump in to cover my shifts.”

Seeing each other through life’s changes

“The staff in The Birthplace at Fairview Lakes are a team. They have seen each other through so many of life’s changes,” says Becky, inpatient nursing director.“Staff was so in tune to the needs of Jennifer’s family and, when they witnessed needs out-pacing resources, they took action.”

Jennifer’s co-workers wrote to radio station KDWB’s Christmas Wish program, which gives gifts, gift certificates and other needed items to families who are going through hard times.Their compelling letter resulted in a number of gifts from the program, one of which was a high-quality wig for Jaelynn. “I was speechless, especially when they read the letter on the air. I was crying,” says Jennifer.

A great place to work and provide care

Jennifer credits her experience as a patient at University of Minnesota Medical Center with her choice to become a registered nurse.“When I was pregnant with my daughter, I went into respiratory distress,” Jennifer explains. “That’s when I decided to become a nurse–because of the incredible care I received.”

Fairview MINI Clinics Maximize Care In Our Communities

Carol Hauser Flu shot

On Nov. 16, Fairview volunteers were at the DSMA Ethiopian Orthodox Church vaccinating people for influenza at the Fairview-sponsored Minnesota Immunization Networking Initiative program (MINI).

MINI brings free flu shots to community locations, such as churches or community centers, for those who might not otherwise have access. This particular clinic was for Ethiopians.

“MINI clinics provide a wonderful opportunity for Fairview volunteers to serve their community and, at the same time, experience and appreciate the rich diversity represented in our cities,” says Pat Peterson, MINI director.

“Faith-based and grassroots organizations welcome MINI volunteers, sharing rituals and traditional food. In return, MINI volunteers contribute their time and talent to fulfill a shared mission of improving the health of our communities.”

Expanding our reach to match the need

MINI began in 2006 with the goal of increasing influenza immunization rates among minority and uninsured populations in the greater Twin Cities.

This multi-sector initiative is supported by Fairview and a grant from the Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative from the Minnesota Department of Health; we provide clinical and non-clinical volunteers, educational materials and the vaccine.

Last year, 8,754 people received free flu shots at more than 150 MINI clinics.

Community partners include St. Mary’s Health Clinics, Homeland Health Specialists, Open Cities Health Center, Stairstep Foundation and American Indian CDC. Community sites that host MINI clinics are responsible for providing the space and promoting the event.

MINI leaders are exploring ways to sustain this award-winning program by, for instance, partnering with HealthEast Care System and reaching out to nursing students from St. Catherine’s University.

Botox for Overactive Bladders


Botox® is best known for reducing the look for wrinkles, but it’s becoming more common in treating medical issues – including overactive bladder.  Urologist Steve Bernstein, MD, at Fairview Center for Bladder Control says Botox works by ‘relaxing’ the muscle of the bladder, in many cases reducing the symptoms associated with overactive bladder such as urgency and frequency.

Below, Dr. Bernstein answers 5 common questions.

Q:  Does Botox work better than medication for overactive bladder (OAB)?
Botox often works better than bladder medicine for OAB but it is not considered a ‘first line therapy.’ Patients with OAB should first be considered for behavioral modification. If results are not satisfactory, we may next try medical management. Botox is reserved for patients who do not respond well or cannot tolerate medications for their OAB.

Q: Does the injection hurt?

The injection process is usually described as “mildly painful.” The urologist typically puts some jelly containing local anesthesia into the bladder for a few minutes prior to the injection.  The actual procedure takes only a few minutes and the patients are allowed to drive home and resume their normal daily activities the same day.

Q: How long will Botox injections last?

On average, a Botox treatment lasts about 9 months. There is a fair amount of variation around that time frame. Botox has been safely administered to some patients for many years.

Q: Is this treatment covered by insurance?

Botox injections into the bladder are approved by the FDA for OAB and covered by most insurance plans.

Q. If Botox isn’t for me, what other treatments are available?

If Botox is not a good answer for your particular condition other treatment modalities are available. Some of the methods involve ‘neuromodulation’ or changing the way the nerves to the bladder act and feel. (Watch a video to see how this pace maker for the bladder works.)

Learn more or make an appointment
Learn more about common bladder problems and treatments offered by Fairview Center for Bladder Control here.  You can make an appointment by calling 952-460-4130.If you visit Dr. Bernstein’s biography, you’ll find videos on several bladder topics.

To learn more about common women’s health issues, visit our women’s health page.

Muslim Imam cherishes experience in Clinical Pastoral Education Program


Imam Sharif Mohamed never thought his road from war-torn Somalia would lead him to a position as a chaplain resident in Fairview’s Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program, but he has embraced the experience with open arms. “Being the first Muslim Imam in the CPE program has presented many unique challenges, but I am motivated to create more inter-faith understanding in the program,” says Sharif.

After the government collapsed in Somalia, Sharif fled alone as a young man to a refugee camp in Kenya where he continued to follow in the footsteps of his father who was a highly regarded Muslim spiritual advisor. In 1996, Sharif immigrated to the United States near Fargo, ND.

When several Somali elders in Minneapolis learned of Sharif’s arrival in the United States, they persuaded him to move to the Twin Cities to continue his spiritual leadership in the rapidly growing Somali community near Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. A few years later, local Muslim leaders appointed Sharif as Imam, the highest title given to a spiritual leader within their community.

Sharif’s journey to the Clinical Pastoral Education program

In 2013, Sharif attended a community health education forum, hosted by Fairview, to educate Twin Cities Imams about mental health resources available to Somali families. During this community forum the Rev. Deaconess Diane Greve, manager of the Clinical Pastoral Education program, encouraged him to apply for the chaplain residency program at Fairview.

Sharif was accepted to the program as a chaplain intern in January 2014. Soon after, he was selected for a one-year chaplain resident position to study with six other clinical pastoral students representing varying faiths. Part of CPE’s curriculum requires Sharif to study the traditions and practices of other world religions, including Christianity and Judaism. “When we come together for group meetings to discuss our spiritual experiences and rituals, we learn so much from each other. It is an experience I enjoy very much,” says Sharif.

Navigating critical care issues

With the help of his supervisor, Sheryl Lyndes Stowman, and his mentor, Chaplain Mary Martin, Sharif helps patients and families navigate through critical care issues despite language, cultural and religious barriers that may arise. “I am impressed by Sharif’s ability to listen deeply to his patients….He is very respectful of all faith traditions. Sharif is a terrific addition to our Spiritual Health Services staff.” says Mary.

During his rounds at University of Minnesota Medical Center’s medical and surgical units, he recognized early on that many Muslim families weren’t requesting spiritual care during their stay because they didn’t understand the language translation for the words “chaplain request.” He has also been called on to visit aging Muslim patients at Ebenezer care centers. “It was touching to see how dedicated Sharif was in his spiritual care for others…,” says Sheryl. “His wisdom and maturity have been appreciated by those in our program.”

Serving a growing Muslim community

Sharif feels it is important that he help Muslim families interpret the spiritual implications of medical decisions related to life support, transplants, blood transfusions, organ donation, end-of-life care and more. “It is good for Muslim patients to know that we have resources for them like a copy of the Holy Quran or a prayer rug they can keep in their room to have private prayer five times each day. It makes the patients, and their families, know they are welcome during their stay,” says Sharif.

Minnesota is home to approximately 100,000 people of Muslim faith. From 2005 to 2013, the percentage of Muslim and Islamic faith patients in Fairview hospitals increased from 1.9 percent to 2.6 percent. In addition to his efforts at the medical center, Sharif also teaches and counsels followers and families at the Islamic Civic Center, a mosque he helped establish in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in 1998. Following a tragic fire on Jan. 1, 2014, the center is now in a temporary space until funds are raised to reopen the building.

Building cross-cultural understanding

Sharif will be the first Imam in Minnesota to complete a CPE inter-faith chaplain program when he finishes his training in fall 2015. With an additional 2,000 hours of counseling, he will be eligible to apply for national certification from the Association of Professional Chaplains.

“With Sharif’s assistance, we are able to facilitate a better cross-cultural understanding for the spiritual needs of our patients,” says Chuck Ceronsky, director of Pastoral Care at University of Minnesota Medical Center. “He has helped prepare staff and physicians to be more effective when engaging Somali or Muslim families. Sharif is always willing to help.”

Once he completes the program, Sharif would like to continue working as a spiritual ambassador and chaplain at Fairview and use his experience to introduce new healing modalities to the Somali community, including holistic healing, pain management, meditation and guided imagery. “Community outreach and building trust with health care providers is a two-way street in the Somali community,” says Sharif. “I hope to be a bridge for both.”

For more than 50 years, Fairview’s Clinical Pastoral Education program has prepared people from many faith traditions for spiritual health care ministries. For more information about the CPE program, or to support their work with a donation, contact the Rev. Deaconess Diane Greve at 612-273-6457.

New Ebenezer Transitional Care Unit Helps Bridge The Gap


To bridge the gap between hospital and home, our new Meadows on Transitional Care Unit (TCU) will be providing short-term care for patients who need help easing back into home life, starting in January.

Each patient room in the Meadows Transitional Care Unit includes a bed, full-size bathroom and kitchenette with a working sink and mini-fridge.

The 14-bed TCU is Medicare certified to provide short-term rehabilitation after a hospital stay. Unit staff will provide occupational, physical and speech therapy, helping patients who may be well enough to be out of the hospital ease back into their home life with the direct care of nurses and doctors. The patients’ primary care physicians will monitor and track progress via Epic throughout their stay at the TCU. Nurses and a house physician will directly manage medical care but, in some cases, patients may need to go to the clinic to see their doctor.

Depending on the patient’s illness or injury, average length of stay is expected to be 10-14 days. For more information about Meadows on Fairview TCU, contact Kari Wilson at 651-464-2121 or email her at